As you train your team to be compassionate healthcare professionals, take time to emphasize the relationship between family members and hospital employees. Family is a crucial aspect of each patient’s hospital experience – so it is essential to know how to treat them!

Encourage your staff members to think about the role of a family member. Family members support your patients – with their time, their money, their familial bonds, their love. They reassure your patients. They help your patients de-stress. They offer conversation and comfort.

You can offer simple guidelines to your staff that will improve interactions with family members. It all comes down to common courtesy and common sense.

Instill this mantra within each of your staff members: a patient’s family members are just as important as the patient herself.

Be mindful of first impressions. When a staff member enters a hospital room, he or she should greet the patient’s family members, taking the time to walk over to each one and shake hands. This will instantly put the family members at ease. They’ll know their loved one is in good hands – in the care of someone who is personable, thoughtful, and attentive to details.

Provide information. Hospital staff can nurture and care for family members by giving them tangible information about the patient’s procedure and health status. Taking the time to clarify points of confusion and answer questions will reassure the family members.

Remember nonverbal behavior. In addition to keeping family members up-to-date on their loved one’s status and health, employees must not forget how much is said through gestures, facial expressions, and mannerisms. A smile says a thousand words!

Know how to handle complaints. Never argue or disagree with a family member. If someone is frustrated with a situation or outcome, hospital staff should respond with empathy and compassion. Teach your employees to place themselves in a family member’s shoes; they will be better equipped to respond to angry or stressed individuals.

Mitigate stress. Ensure your staff is mindful of the fact that having a loved one in the hospital can be stressful. Family members are likely going to be concerned, worried, or confused. Staff members can counter this by smiling, being good listeners, calmly responding to questions, and providing information.

Be personal. Throughout all interactions with hospital visitors, staff members should take that extra moment to shake someone’s hand, ask their name, or simply smile. Small gestures like this forge a personal connection between a hospital employee and a patient’s family member. In the eyes of a patient or family member, a hospital employee is the entire hospital. Ensure the hospital environment is full of comfort and ease.

Your patients are spokespeople for your healthcare facility – and so are their family members and other visitors! Every mother, uncle, sister, or nephew who walks through your doors will leave with an opinion about their experience. Will they be impressed by the compassionate care given to their loved one?